Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, will tour the Santa Barbara County Foodbank facilities in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria next week, highlighting the negative effects that cuts to federal anti-hunger and nutrition programs, recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, would have on the county’s ability to combat hunger and the burden these cuts would have on already strained local resources.

Capps will visit the Santa Barbara facility, 4554 Hollister Ave., from 11 a.m. to noon Monday, and the Santa Maria facility at 490 W. Foster Road from 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday.

The nonprofit group Feeding America recently released “Map the Meal Gap,” a publication that reveals that 15.6 percent or 100,340 individuals in California’s 23rd Congressional District are food insecure.

The Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill passed the House on a largely party-line vote. This bill drastically reduces funding for critical nutrition programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children and the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which provides states with food to distribute to local food banks.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has calculated that the cut in WIC funding alone would result in 31,800 to 55,700 eligible women and children being turned away from the program in California. The WIC program serves nearly 1.5 million women, infants and children in California every single year.

Similarly, TEFAP would be cut by $12 million when compared with fiscal year 2011 levels. Last year, the Santa Barbara County Foodbank received $73,000 in TEFAP commodities. Each meal the foodbank provides costs an estimated $1.25, so $73,000 in lost TEFAP funding would mean 60,000 fewer meals to Santa Barbara County families.

“Federal nutrition and anti-hunger programs have provided a critical safety net for those hardest hit by the recession and the most vulnerable in our communities on the Central Coast,” Capps said. “Cutting federal nutrition programs will place additional strain on local governments and organizations like the Santa Barbara County Foodbank as the costs are not reduced — just passed along to those who are already strained. These are just the wrong priorities.”

“The proposed cuts to emergency food supplies voted on by the House of Representatives could be potentially devastating to our community efforts to end hunger through good nutrition,” said Erik Talkin, executive director of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “Support from the government goes a long way to supplement millions of pounds of food donated by local farmers, grocery stores and generous individuals. Cutting emergency food from the budget will prove to be shortsighted and costly — we cannot turn our backs on our most vulnerable neighbors now.”

After tours of the facilities, Capps, local advocates and supporters will talk about the importance of contacting Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to urge them to fight these cuts in the U.S. Senate.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.